BY HARRIET CHIKANDIWA
HUMAN rights lobby group, Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum has sued the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services for not adhering to the COVID-19 regulations which has put prisoners at risk of contracting the deadly virus.
The Forum, together with Taurai Mbewe, a prisoner has also filed a complaint against three ministries, Justice, Finance and Health, to take action in reducing the risk of diseases in prisons.
In their application filed on Wednesday, the Forum and Mbewe have sued the ZPCS to enforce social distancing in prison trucks and wearing masks as per the COVID-19 regulations in order to minimise the risk of infections in prisons.
The rights lobby group also wants the Health ministry to provide medication to prisoners.
The Finance ministry, the Forum and Mbewe said, should release funds for the procurement of the said PPE materials and regular water supply for bathing and ablution facilities.
The ministry should also procure food in compliance with prisoners’ dietary regulations and acquisition of more prison facilities to accommodate excess numbers of inmates in prisons and the Health ministry to provide medication in prisons for prisoners.
Over 100 prisoners and officers tested positive last month as prison inmates were not getting face masks and sanitisers and were exposed to severe cold this winter in the absence of adequate bedding and warm clothing.
In March, the government acknowledged that Zimbabwe’s prisons must have a capacity for 17 000, although prisons had a population of 22 000 which means there was a high risk of rapid spread of the virus.
In his affidavit, Mbewe lamented the deplorable prison conditions that he said posed a huge threat to his health and life.
He complained about overcrowding, poor diet and shortage of water supply for bathing and ablution facilities.